Agriculture

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

I am a California dairy cow.  Mmmm—oo.

Surprised to hear from me? In normal times, I wouldn’t be inclined to cooperate with the anthropomorphic scheme of a writer desperate for a mid-summer column.

But today so much is being said about agriculture here in the Central Valley, and dairies in particular, that I felt the need to—if you’ll pardon the pun—milk the moment. Too many of you city slickers have the wrong impression of the cows you pass along the 5 or the 99.

Brown Calls For New, Smaller Water Bond

Aug 5, 2014
Jerry Brown
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Governor Jerry Brown wants to scrap the 11 billion dollar water bond scheduled for California’s November ballot and replace it with a smaller proposal of his own. Capital Public Radio’s Ben Adler reports.
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Six billion dollars. That’s what the governor says he’s willing to spend. Not 11, like the existing bond; not eight or nine billion, like some of the proposals floating around the Legislature. Six billion. In an interview with Capital Public Radio, Brown put forth an argument of fiscal prudence for a state already 30 billion dollars in debt.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Fresno and figs have a long history together. Nearly 100 years ago,  real estate developer J.C. Forkner purchased thousands of acres of hardpan soil miles north of the city of Fresno. 

Clock Ticking on California Water Bond Deal

Aug 5, 2014
Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

California lawmakers are back from their summer break and facing pressure to craft a deal on a new water bond. But, as Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, time is running out.
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Legislative Democrats and Governor Jerry Brown want to replace the $11 billion bond currently on the November ballot with a smaller bond. Senate President Darrell Steinberg says the exact amount is still up for debate. Another big sticking point: which state agency will manage the restoration of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta ecosystem.  

Creative Commons / Flickr user wollombi / https://www.flickr.com/photos/wollombi/49941220/

We all know Central California produces most of the state’s petroleum, but could another oil boom be on the horizon? Well, that’s what journalist Nathanael Johnson from the online environmental news website Grist argues in a new article that came out last week – but he’s not talking about fracking or the Monterey Shale – he’s talking about olive oil. 

NASA Earth Observatory

If you drive through Central California, it might be easy to forget the state is in the midst of a drought of historic proportions. Almond orchards and vineyards are green and full with crops awaiting harvest, and in cities green lawns still outnumber brown ones. 

New Survey Says Californians Overwhelmingly Support Statewide Groundwater Plan

Jul 17, 2014
California Department of Water Resources

An overwhelming majority of likely California voters say they favor a statewide groundwater management plan over the status quo. The results are part of a new survey released today. Capital Public Radio’s Max Pringle reports. 

The survey was commissioned by the non-profit California Water Foundation. It finds the prolonged drought has focused public opinion on the need to regulate groundwater. Pollster David Metz says few Californians think the state is doing an adequate job of managing.the resource.

California High Speed Rail Authority

The Fresno County Board of Supervisors decided to wait on a proposal Tuesday that would have formally positioned the county as opposed to California’s high speed rail project. The effort which was led by Supervisor Debbie Poochigian, who says the project’s funding should be diverted to other areas like water or public safety.

Poochigian spoke with Valley Public Radio on Monday afternoon before the meeting:

Fines Now Possible for California Water Wasters

Jul 15, 2014
Florence Low / California Department of Water Resources

A state agency took a major step to encourage water conservation Tuesday. As Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, it voted to allow large fines for wasting water.

The State Water Resources Control Board has adopted emergency regulations that allow local water agencies to levy fines up to $500 a day for people who waste water outdoors. Board Chair Felicia Marcus says collecting money isn’t the goal. Convincing urban water users to conserve is.

Groundwater Helping Farmers Endure California Drought, UC Davis Says

Jul 15, 2014
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Research from UC Davis suggests California farmers are mostly able to maintain production during the drought because of their use of underground water– but environmentalists, scientists and farmers agree the practice is not a long term solution. Pauline Bartolone has more from Sacramento.

California farming will take a financial hit because of the drought. But for the most part, the UC Davis drought study says groundwater will supply what’s lacking in surface water. Peter Gleick of the Pacific Institute says pumping groundwater can’t continue to go unregulated.   

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A report released today shows that Fresno's agricultural industry has slipped out of its first-place standing in the state.  The 2013 Fresno County crop report shows that its total gross value of agricultural products last year was $6.4 billion, over $1.3 billion behind Tulare County--the first time since 2002 that Tulare swung to the top of the list.

Drought Could Cost California Economy $2.2 Billion In 2014, Says Study

Jul 15, 2014
John Chacon / California Department of Water Resources

The California economy could lose $2.2 billion this year because of the drought. Max Pringle reports on a UC Davis study that shows the agriculture industry alone could lose $1.5 billion.

The study says California will have to make do with a third less water this year and that could lead to 430 thousand acres of fallow farmland. Former UC Davis Economist Richard Howitt says the pain won’t be spread evenly throughout the state.

Forecasters: El Nino Not Likely To Help Ease Drought

Jul 10, 2014
National Weather Service

It's less likely an El Niño event will bring rain to parched California next fall or winter. And, as Ed Joyce reports from Sacramento, the drought is expected to continue next year.

National Weather Service forecasters say the chance of El Niño is about 70 percent during the Northern Hemisphere this summer and is close to 80 percent during the fall and early winter.

Assembly Republicans have a new leader in Sacramento, and she's from the San Joaquin Valley. Modesto's Kristin Olsen joined us on Valley Edition to talk about her priorities from education to a water bond. She also spoke about her ideas on how California Republicans can better connect with voters in the future. 

On her vision for Republicans in California:

CalFire/Fresno County Fire Twitter / https://twitter.com/FresnoCoFire/status/485972454439780353/photo/1

A major canal that supplies Kings River water to east side valley farmers will be out of commission for one week at the height of the  growing season. 

A levee on the Alta Irrigation's District's Alta Main canal east of Sanger gave way on Sunday evening, flooding several homes and closing Highway 180 for a short time. Crews were able to control the flooding and turn off the water supply.

Much Of California's Emergency Drought Relief Money Still Unspent

Jul 7, 2014
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

It’s been four months since Governor Jerry Brown signed what he and Democratic lawmakers called “emergency drought legislation.” It promised nearly $700 million in immediate drought relief. But as Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, nearly 90 percent of that money has yet to be spent.

It was late February when Governor Jerry Brown and Democratic legislative leaders announced – with great fanfare – emergency drought legislation.

Brown: “What needs to be done will be done – and is being done.”

California Assembly Committee Passes Farm Worker Sexual Harassment Bill

Jun 25, 2014
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

  A California Assembly committee passed a bill Wednesday that would give the state the power to revoke the licenses of farm labor contractor’s if they hire supervisors who have sexually harassed workers.

Michael Marsh is an attorney for California Rural Legal Assistance. He says his office deals with complaints of sexual harassment and sexual assault on a regular basis.

California Assembly Committee Passes Groundwater Rules Bill

Jun 25, 2014
California Department of Water Resources

Local California water agencies would be able to establish rules governing groundwater use for the first time under a bill that passed an Assembly committee Tuesday. 

Backers of the bill say years of ground water over-pumping has led to wells drying up around the state and has also depleted surface water supplies. Maurice Hall is with the Nature Conservancy.

John D. Sutter / Twitter http://twitter.com/jdsutter

Journalist John D. Sutter is on a quest to do something that many valley residents do, kayak on the San Joaquin River. But instead of going for a short trip from Lost Lake Park to Highway 41, he has a much longer journey in mind - Friant Dam all the way to San Francisco Bay. 

Senate Rejects Alternate Water Bond; Brown To Weigh In?

Jun 23, 2014
Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

California water bond negotiations are entering a critical stretch. Time is growing short to replace the current $11 billion measure on the November ballot. As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, one proposal failed a key test vote Monday.

Typically, water politics break down along regional lines. But this vote fell on party lines. Democratic Senator Lois Wolk argued that her proposal stands the best chance of passing the legislature this summer – and winning voter approval this fall.

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